Beginner Fountain Pens – Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen Review

The Pilot Preppy in Blue Black.  Another beginner fountain pen with some additional benefits.

The Pilot Preppy in Blue Black. Another beginner fountain pen with some additional benefits.

As I mentioned in my post earlier this week, I am doing a few reviews this week on some of the more inexpensive or beginner fountain pens that I have used because I have seen many questions and comments from people who are skeptical or reluctant to try a fountain pen because they believe they will be too expensive, too messy, or just too difficult to write with. Hopefully my posts this week will help people who are curious about fountain pens to find something that they will want to try.  I know from personal experience that finding a beginner fountain pen and getting started with it can be a little confusing and even a little intimidating.

The Platinum Preppy uncapped and in writing position.

The Platinum Preppy uncapped and in writing position.

The 2nd option for a beginner fountain pen that I think is good to get some experience with is the Platinum Preppy.  This pen is just about the same price as the previously reviewed Pilot Varsity, however you get a little more feel for a regular fountain pen with it, because instead of just being a disposable with a sealed ink tank, they come with one cartridge of ink that you can replace down the road.  You can find this fountain pen at JetPens.com for $3.00 and it comes in multiple colors, and as you can see from the link, they also offer the replacement cartridges for $1.50 for a pack of 2.  Having the opportunity to change the cartridge in a fountain pen is something that I feel that many non-fountain pen users are a little hesitant about, and I think it is a good exercise in helping to understand that the cartridges are pretty clean and really dont make a mess when changing or using them.  This is one of those myths about fountain pens that can sometimes make beginners a bit reluctant to start using them.

The Platinum Preppy taken apart to show the nib and the cartridge.

The Platinum Preppy taken apart to show the nib and the cartridge.

The above picture shows the pen deconstructed so you can see the nib on the left, and the cartridge on the right.  Its pretty simple, you just unscrew the section which contains the nib, and as you slip the cartridge into the nib section, it punctures it and gets the ink flowing.  Once past the initial loading of the ink cartridge, you can start to get a feel for the flexibility that a fountain pen can give you with the different types and colors of inks that are available, even though this particular one only takes the Platinum brand refills.

The Platinum Preppy writing sample in a Mead 5 star notebook.

The Platinum Preppy writing sample in a Mead 5 star notebook.

With the functional differences between the Pilot Varsity and the Platinum Preppy now evident, you can take a look at the writing sample with this pen.  The Platinum Preppy is a pretty close match when it comes to the smooth writing experience and solid line that this pen puts down.  I think the only real difference is that the line is just a bit finer as compared to the Pilot Varsity.  The only other major difference between these fountain pens is that the Platinum Preppy seems to have a higher quality build and design to it.  It has a very strong clear plastic body and a spring loaded cap that most likely will be better for keeping the ink from evaporating out of the pen.  The nice thing about the clear plastic body is that it allows you to see the amount of ink left, unlike the Varsity.

I think it is important to note that there are plenty of other beginner fountain pens out there that offer similar functionality, quality, and value, however these are just some that I happen to have had good experiences with and are representative of the many others available.  The next and last beginner fountain pen that I will review for this short series will be one that offers the most flexibility in the ink delivery methods and the writing experience, so stay tuned for that later this week.

©2014, Brian Greene. All rights reserved.

Comments

  1. 1
    Cranky says:

    I think both of the plastic pens you’ve recommended have their place (I’ve owned both) but ultimately they don’t give you a taste of the satisfying experience of writing with a nice fountain pen. I actually prefer the Varsity – my Preppy broke when I screwed it back together after replacing the cartridge – perhaps plastic is not compatible with disassembling and reassembling.

    If I were to suggest a starter I would send people to Jetpens for an Ohto Tasche. $15, incredibly compact, cartridge-compatible, and writes like a dream. If $15 is out of their starter price range, your suggestions are fine, but they won’t give the pleasure of a good pen, which is the whole point of owning a fountain pen, IMHO. I think the Tasche out-writes pens that cost 5-10 times as much – when you “move up” to a Waterman, Mont Blanc, etc. you’ll probably be disappointed that it’s not as fun to write with as the Tasche!

    I’m curious about #3 in your list.

    (The Tasche is available here. I have no connection to either Ohto or Jetpens, btw. In fact, I got my Tasche at the Kinokuniya store in San Francisco’s Japantown)
    http://www.jetpens.com/index.php/cPath/214_117

  2. 2
    Cat says:

    @OSG What a coincidence! I had to ask PenAddict the other day how to get the ink flowing with this pen. I was worried I had a dud. In case a beginner fountain pen user has the same problem, PA said to just doodle, doodle, doodle, for a couple of minutes until the ink starts flowing. So far, I like this pen much better than the Varsity. I’m only hoping that the purple refill cartridges I got for this are a lighter shade than the Varsity purple. That one is very close to a purple-black.

    @Cranky I haven’t been to the Kinokuniya store in years! Last time I was in SF was in 2005, I think. The fact that that store is there, plus the Timbuk2 store, makes me very jealous of you.

  3. 3
    kookychick says:

    Great review! :-) The Preppy also takes Platinum converters (though it doesn’t hold much ink), if beginners don’t want to refill empty cartridges yet would like to move up to bottled ink. I have one (with a highlighter tip) currently loaded with Noodler’s St. Patty’s Eire in a converter, and it seems to be working okay. Unfortunately, the converter costs more than the pen itself! :-(

  4. 4
    pat says:

    I know nothing about fountain pens, so this may be a stupid question. In your writing sample the ink seems to be darker at the top of the page and gets lighter as you move down the page. Is this normal?

  5. 5
    Speedmaster says:

    I like those pens, great review!

  6. 6

    @Cranky – I know what you are saying about the writing experience itself. When I started with my Varsity, I just assumed the writing experience would be better, I was more interested in the “messy” factor. Not to say that everyone had the same concerns that I did, but Im just writing from my experience here, I appreciate you sharing your experience with the two pens though because clearly I am just a sample size of one, which is never going to be statistically accurate. :) I’ve looked at the Tasche before, but never had a chance to try one.

    @Cat – I did notice that with mine as well, it took a minute to get the ink flowing…I probably should have mentioned that.

    @kookychick – thanks for that bit of info, I didnt know that there were converters for the Platinum.

    @pat – absolutely not a stupid question, and I didnt even notice this until you pointed it out…very observant. I did a quick test and rewrote everything exactly the same again, and it appears that you are correct. I think this is just an issue with this pen, I went back and looked at some of my notes that I’ve taken for work and I dont see it happening there at all, and I have some pretty long writing sessions. Thanks for pointing this out.

    @Speedmaster – always nice to have you stop by and comment, and I appreciate the compliment. Anyone who has not seen Speedmaster’s blog should check it out at http://amateureconblog.blogspot.com/ always full of some very interesting reading

  7. 7
    Cranky says:

    @Cat: Sadly I don’t live in SF anymore but J-town (spending too much at Kinokuniya and having a bubble tea) are high on my list every time I return.

    @OSG: Don’t get me wrong, I think the Varsity and Preppy are both significant improvements over a cheap eBay fountain pen from China or a discounted Shaeffer scratcher – at a minimum the Varsity and Preppy will *work*. From that perspective I like your recommendations. I think some potential converts can be frustrated by non-working cheap pens and never want to spend more because they assume all fountain pens are frustrating! At the same time, someone with a Varsity might say, “eh, I’d rather stick with a uni-ball roller” and never really get it.

    As for Ohto pens, they claim to be “iridium tipped” although I don’t know if that’s true ( see http://www.kamakurapens.com/IridiumKiss.html for an interesting history about this.) However they are made, they write wonderfully.

  8. 8
    Brandy says:

    I love my platinum preppies! I have converted mine to using liquid ink using the directions on jetpens.com. I can write forever!!!! I have about 5 filled with different colors and would like to order some mroe when the stock refills. I did have one that the cap cracked on, but haven’t had problems with the others.

  9. 9
    Victoria O. says:

    Hi there, I am just getting into fountain pens and after looking around I bought a Platinum PLAISIR aluminum as my rookie pen to start. I bought some J. Herbin violet ink and had no trouble filling it using the converter. I was surprised that the cartridge refills for this pen only come in the 3 basic colors, so that is very limiting without using the converter. Now it may be that cartridges are not for the connoisseur, but at this stage in the game, I’d like that option. So can you recommend the next step up pen for me? It needs to have lots of color cartridge options as well as a converter. Blue, black or red inks do not inspire me, I need violets and purples and greens and scented is a nice plus. Thanks in advance for your advice.

    Oh and one more thing – changing color in the converter? Would it be best to have one for each color?

    Thanks!
    Victoria

  10. 10

    @Victoria O – Actually, JetPens carries about 9 different cartridges for the PLAISIR and Preppy.

    But if you want the next step up, Id give the Lamy Studio a try:

    http://officesupplygeek.com/pen-review/beginner-fountain-pens-lamy-safari-fountain-pen-review/

  11. 11
    Victoria O. says:

    Oh yes, thanks. I did figure that out. I have in the meantime purchased 2 Preppys, a Varsity, a Plumix and a Pilot Petit1. Really enjoying the Varsity and the Petit1.The others not so much but they were all inexpensive enough. I’m definitely ready to move up and will try the Lamy. The PLAISIR aluminum is really the nicer quality case and I’m eager for something more gratifying. I guess this is how it all begins, huh?

    I’m eyeing the Waterman Exception. I think I need to power down a bit.
    Thanks for the advice,
    V.

  12. 12
    Fdisk2k says:

    I’ve been visiting this forum lately and I really like it, very unbiased reviews and the photos of the products are very sharp and BIG! I like that…

    Keep going

    Fountain pen enthusiast.

  13. 13

    @Victoria O – Glad things are working out well for you. Those Waterman Exceptions ARE really nice looking, I cant blame you for considering one.

    @Fdisk2k – Thanks so much for the feedback, I’m glad you are enjoying the site.

  14. 14
    Ryuji says:

    I was just thinking about ordering a half dozen Preppy for my photography studio so that I can phase out wasteful rollerballs… and with a bit of style in the office.

    I had a sales rep from a local office supply house who was trying to open an account with me. He was pleasant but tenacious, so I told him that I use fountain pens filled from bottles so I have no use for his services… (besides Canon, Fuji and other companies keep sending me stickies and what not.) They went away very fast, without even seeing my Rotring Core (a very nice pen with excellent nib but there’s problem with ink cartridge coming loose and also the cap not very airtight).

  15. 15

    @Ryuji – I think that is a great idea for a business where creativity and style can help win over potential customers…not to mention it is probably a good feeling to be able to shut down a sales person like that. :)

  16. 16
    RobinRaven says:

    I just wanted to say thank you for your opinion, Cranky. I decided to go with the Ohto Tasche and cannot wait to try writing with a fountain pen.
    -RobinRaven.com

  17. 17
    Dave Horan says:

    This is an old review I know, but I happened to find one of these at an art supply store and wanted to give it a try. I loved the pen, and used it for daily “work” as well as drawing. My only frustration was the plastic barrel cracked along the threads, forcing me to tape it up. Not a big deal, but does make it a problem to refill. Now that I know what to watch for, I might get a couple more.

    Like others on this thread, I like this one over the Varsity. However, it is a lot lighter than a more expensive fountain pen. I did notice that as I used it more, the nib began to write a bit thicker; probably just a result of my usage at the office.

    All in all for the price its a fantastic pen.

  18. 18
    Vinthechin12 says:

    My first fountain pen was the Sheaffer school pen.  I have used Sheaffer for as long as i can remember because they make reliable instruments. 
    The pen was being sold on a few different web-sights for about 15 dollars, and after 10 years of use it still works perfectly fine.  the only down side is that it is a cartridge pen but I’m sure they sell converters. 

  19. 19
    michael Harrison says:

    The plastic barrels of the Preppys are way too brittle. I have two, and both have cracks in the barrels and caps from very easy, desktop duty. They’re great writing pens, but even for only $3.00 I expect it to last a few months without snapping. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *